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For my children 
By H. D. Lane 







Mrs. Frank Nash 



This book must not 
be taken from the 
Library building. 

L- 2.L-C 


A story giving some of the experiences of the War 1861-1865 and 
of the times when Sherman fought the last battle of the War at Ben- 
tontfville, N.C, and of the privations of those who lived along the line 
of his march in Wayne County, N.C. 

I am a daughter of Mr. William Donnell Cobb and wife, Ann Spicer 
Collier. My father lived on his riant at ion nine miles from Goldsboro, 
Wayne County, on the South side Neuse Piver. He was a stock farmer and 
did not raise cotton until the war began in 1861. All Southern farmers 
then raised cotton to help clothe the Confederate soldiers. He didnot 
approve of Secession, but wanted to fight for States Pights, under the 
flag which our fathers had fought for. 

I was born and reared on the plantation. Before the war the planters 
employed governesses for their children, while young, then they were 
sent to preparatory schools before entering college. My sister and I 
were sent to the Misses Nash and Kollock's Preparatory School, in Hills- 
boro, Orange County, in 1860, and we were there when North Carolina se* 
ceded from the Union, and we helped with some of the other school girls 
to raise the first Confederate flag over the Court House. North Carolina 
seceded May 20th, 1861. 

My father gave four sons to the Confederate Service. They were among 
the first to volunteer when Governor Ellis called for volunteers to de- 
fend the State. My brothers, Col. John P. Cobb; Capt . Bryan W. Cobb and 
Dr. William H.H. Cobb all volunteered as privates, but were made officers 
in the 2nd Pegiment of N.C. State Troops. My brother, Dr. William H.H. 
Cobb graduated in Ihiladelphia la. just in time to get home and volun- 
teer. At first he was in the 2nd. Pegiment but was later transferred 
to the 4th Fegiment as Assistant Surgeon. My fourth brother Fev. Need- 
ham B. Cob b was Chaplain of the 4th. Pegiment; all were first sent 
to lort Macon, for a few days, then to Virginia and fought under Lee. 
My brother Needham's health failed the latter part of the war, and he 
moved with his family to Faleigh. 

After the death of Col. Charles Tew (First Col. of 2nd Pegiment), 
my brother John was promoted for bravery on the battle field, from 
Captain of Company H. to Colonel, and brother Bryan W. Cobb was then 
made Captain. My brother Dr. W.H.H. Cobb and Capt. Bryan ». Cobb 
fought through the war and surrendered with Lee at Appomattox. My broth- 
er Col. John P. Cobb lost a leg in the Battle of Winchester, Va., Sept. 
19th, 1864, was taken prisoner and confined in Fort McEenry until Lee 

New Eern fell into the hands of the Yankees, March 21st, 1862. My 
father soon noved his family to a farm four miles from BentongVille 
(where the last battle of the war was fought 1865). Just after he moved 
General Burnside came from New Bern on a march for Soldsboro, passing 
our rlace, but our forces had burned the bridge at Spring Bank on Neuse 
Piver, six miles from Goldsboro; after being repulsed by our troops, 
Burnside with his army, returned to New Bern. He did not destroy the 
peoples 1 property. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2013 


After a short time my father moved back to his home, and left his 
daughter, Mrs. Nathan B. Whitfield living there. My father and her hus- 
band were members of the Home Gfuard. After the Battle of ±senton/4ville, 
Sherman marched to Goldsboro, passimg, and resting one night on my fath- 
er's plantation. The day before Sherman reached our home my father 
called his alaves together and said to them "In a few days you will be 
free; Sherman will be here and destroy everything; the crop is already 

lanted; he cannot destroy that. We have lived together in peace, as you 
know; the land, seed and fertilizer are mine; if you stay and work the 
crop, you can gather it in two portions; you can then select a man and I 
will select one and these men shall say which portion I am to have." 
Our negroes remained on the place and finished the crop. 

Sherman had given orders to his troops when he reached layette villa 
to destroy all property, private and public, which would be of any use 
to the enemy; that he was going to wind up the war. i he order is record- 
ed in the Congressional Records of the United States in Washington, D.C. 
His army carried out his instructions along his line of march. They de- 
stroyed our household furniture, leaving the bed on which my sick mother 
lay, and a large dining table and a few chairs, which were once the prop- 
erty of a Colonial Governor of North Carolina, (Governor Tryon) whose 
furniture was confiscated and sold at auction, in New Bern, after the 
Fevolutionary War, and the dining room suite was bought by my grandfather 
John Cobb of Kinston, N.C. This, table and chairs was left for Sherman 
and his officers to use while they rested on our ylantation. His army 
destroyed literally every useful thing, filling all the wells on the 
place with dead hogs, shooting the cows and all other living things, leav- 
ing what they did no* want lying on the ground. They rolled all the bar- 
rels filled with the year's supply of molasses, into the front hall, burst 
in the heads and let the molasses run on the floor, after which they 
brought quantities of rice, oats, peas, meal, etc. and poured all of this 
on the molasses; then went upstairs, cut the feather beds and shook the 
feathers down on it, and then ran horses over it, through the house. They 
broke out all the window panes, broke doors and window blinds, cut up 
the carpets and made saddle blankets for their horses. They killed every 
living thing on the place except the rats and dogs and carried off all 
the remaining years supply of food stuff. My parents lived a few days on 
the dead fowls. The Yankees moved my mother's maid with her family, into 
the room adjoining my mother's bed-room, thinking they would be humiliat- 
| ed living in the house with their former slaves. These negroes proved a 
blessing; they cooked for the Yankees and thus got food for my parents, 
as long as the army was passing. Of course the dead fowls soon got beyond 
being useful for food. Soon after the main army passed the stragglers 
. who followed put a rope around my father's neck and were going to hang 
him, but did not, as the negro men interfered and drove them off. My sis- 
ter with her two children, who were then living on the farm near Benton- 
ville, was left alone with her slaves, while her husband was with the Home 
^Guards. No one ever expected Sherman to reach North Carolina by way of 
q Bentonville, b ut were looking for the Yankees to come from New Bern. Ben- 
^tonville being the last battle of the war, Sherman made a triumphant march 
^to Orange County, and the last remnant of General Johnston's army of Con- 
federate soldiers surrendered to him in April 1865. Our Governmei. had a 
gunboat stationed at Kinston, and trees all along the banks of th Neuse 
Fiver below the town of New Bern, had been cut and thrown in the river, 
thus keeping the river free from Yankee boats which might come if New 
Bern fell. That is why %urnside came by land instead of by boats. Als-e 


Also General Schofield and his army rested on our place while on their 
way to Goldsboro. 

In 1864 my sister and I were day scholars at St. Mary's, Paleigh, but 
after Richmond fell we quit school and went in the hospitals as nurses. 
All the wounded from ^ichmond and Petersburg were brought to Paleigh, 
and later from Ben+onville. Every available place was filled with wound- 
ed soldiers; school buildings, fair grounds and private houses. The ladies 
of Louisb urg had sent a car load of cooked provisions to my brother, Pev. 
N.B. Cobb, to be distributed to the retreating army of General Johnston. My 
parents also had sent a quantity of cooked food before Sherman came to 
our home, to be given to the wounded men in Palgigh. My brother called 
some of *he Paleigh ladies to help distribute the food. Negro servants 
were stationed along the sidewalks along layetteville Street, who filled 
baskets for the ladies who stood on each side of the retreating a»j)tty. 
Poor ragged (bare-footed many of them), worn and weary Boys in Gray. The 
city officials went down to meet Sherman the day before and surrendered 
the city and asked protection for the people and property. Wheeler's Cav«. 
airy of the Confederate Army passed through the city at night. Next morn- 
ing Sherman came marching triumphant up Payetteville Street, at the head 
if his army. Several of "heeler's men had turned back, to fire tktdepot 
in which was stored all the remaining ammunition of the Confederacy, and 
food supplies were piled around the depot. One of the men rode down the 
street and fired on ••'herman, turning down another street and through sev- 
eral other streets before he was captured near St. Mary's School. Sherman 
wanted to hang him in Capitol square but the city officials prevailed on 
him not to do so. Ke was killed near St .Mary's. When the bomb shells in 
the burning depot began to burst, the citizens thought w herman was waging 
war on the city. One twelve year old white girl was killed by the burst- 
ing bombs. Guards were placed at every man's door to prevent angry sol- 
diers from entering private homes. 

As soon as a woman was permitted to ride the train, I went with my 
uncle, Col. George Collier and his wife, back to my old home, aiLto my 
distressed parents. After reaching a oldsboro my uncle had to takethe oath 
of allegiance to the U.S. Government before we were furnished a ragged 
topped ambulance and two old blind cast off army horses and a negro driv- 
er. We had to cross Neuse Piver on a pontoon bridge, the real bridge hav- 
ing been burned by our soldiers on their retreat. This bridge was made of 
planks placed cross-wise on two lines of small boats (or canoes). A regi- 
ment of negro soldiers was stationed there, with white officers. The Colonkl 
placed a line of soldiers on each side of the bridge, and with two more 
leading the horses, we got in and drove across the bounding bridge in a 
pouring rain. He had told us to get out before starting across, as the 
blind horse might turn off and plunge in the river. When we reached home 
I found my mother still sick in bed, with her faithful servants waiting 
on her. My parents and the negroes were then drawing rations from the Com- 
missary in u oldsboro, the negroes walking nine miles bring their portions, 
and my parent s % also, in bags on their backs. 

On the plantation was a large mulberry orchard, p landed for the hogs. 
These berriet were ripe when I came home. There was a negro regiment sta- 
tioned near the house and the white Colonel told my little brother if he 
would gather and deliver the berries to his soldiers, they would pay him 
$2.00 per gallon. x he Yankees had destroyed all the vessels on the place 


and we ; icked up tin cans (some large and some small) on the camp ground 
which Sherman's army had left, ,arr: he and the negroes gathered and de- 
livered many gallons of berries and carae back \tfith empty cans and pockets 
full of greenback money and feeling happy over the prospect of buying 
better food from somewhere. 

My brothers came home with only the clothes on their backs. We bor- 
rowed beds, etc. from neighbors who did not live along the line fif march, 
and when my brothers and father changed their underclothes, they went to 
bed and the negro women took their clothes to the branch 1/4 mile from 
the house, where we were all forced to get drinking water, b ringing it 
that distance in cans . 

After the Battle of Bentonville my sister was left without food or pro- 
tection. An officer in blue advised her to take her two children and 
the two negro women with her, and leave, as he could not protect her, 
but not get separated from the two negroes. She left with them, walking 
four miles in the woods, just far enough from the marching Yankee Army 
not to be lost or discovered by them; she reached a neighbor, Widow Cog- 
del, whose son, a Confederate soldier had been wounded, and was lying 
delirious with fever. The Yankees had not been there, and 'Irs. Cogdel was 
having dinner cooked for sister and the children when a squad of Yankees 
on horses rode up, taking her horses and firing the house in several 
places. My sister, Mrs. Cogdel, her daughter and the servants carried 
her son out on a bed, to a field near the house, and there saw the house 
burn down. Just after sunset an officer in blue rode up and asked what 
they were doing there. My sister re lied "To starve and die." After a 
few minuses he said "My God, I have a wife and little ones at home," and 
dashing off soon returned with an ambulance and took them six miles far- 
ther to a Mr. McCullen's where the Yankees had been but had not burned 
the house. There they spen* the night, ^he next morning Mr. MeCullen 
found a cart wheel and a buggy wheel and an axel which the Yankees had 
failed to cut or burn with other things, and with a few pieces of xlank, 
fixed a conveyance for them +o ride in. She then went ten miles toher 
mother-in-law, Mrs. Sarah Whitfield. 

The Yankees had not been there, but while she was giving her experi- 
ences quite a lot of them came, ^he did not live on the line of march 
but ti ese men were stragglers from Sherman's army which had passed on 
their way to Goldsboro the day before. The old grandmother, 84 years old, 
lived with her daughter and granddaughter whose sons were in Lee's army. 
The dear old woman had fallen a month before and was in bed with a bro- 
ken hip. The Yankees ordered her to get up, which she could not do, ^hen 
one took her by the feet and one took her shoulders, and tossed her across 
the room, going out, locking the door, bidding none to go out or to come 
in. It was cool spring weather and a fire was burning; as night came the 
fire gave light as long as it lasted. J he lamps and candles had been ta- 
ken out before the Yankees came, to be trimmed and washed. As the fire 
grew low, the old lady begged no 4 " to let the light go out. There was a 
very large box of paper patterns, used to cut the darkies clothes, which 
my sister's sister and mother-in-law cut in strips, and one by one was 
held burning by the old lady's bed. The paper lasted till daybreak. The 
Yankees destroyed almost everything except what was in their room and 
a small quantity of provisions. My sister and the two negroes stayed a 


few days and then went to my parents. They were riding army horses, bare- 
back, the make-shift vehicle having been destroyed by the last group of 
stragglers. These were horses which Sherman had discarded when he replen- 
ished his army with the horses of the riant ers along the line. When she 
reached home she found devastation uiid sickness everywhere and thewhole 
air was reekins: with dead animals. My father died the following Octobe r 
20th, 1865 after the crop was gathered, ^y mother Bold a farm in Tennes- 
see which enabled us to live more comfortably. 

Before the negro regiment stationed on our place was disbanded one 
of *he officers found stored in a barn on + he river about four miles from 
the house, a small quantity of corn which the Yankees had not taken away. 
He had the corn (a cart load of it) brought up to the house and stored 
in a bath room at the end of the back hall, upstairs. We had no water- 
works or big bath tubs, but did have nice shower bath closets. The back 
stairs ran up in this hall, and the windows being broken tnere was no 
wa; to keep the hungry starving rats out, and at night they went up the 
stairs by hundreds. We would arm ourselves with sticks and beat among 
them, some nights getting about a peck, and a hand full of tails, and 
some nights after, we would get the bob-tailed rats. The corn proved 
q.uite a help in the way of food. We would boil it in lye made from oak 
ashes, until the husk would come off, then soak it inclear water until 
all the lye was out of it; then we would cook it until soft.and fry it 
in some of the fat white meat we drew from the Government. Xhis varied 
our diet of hard tack, fat meat, brown sugar and bad coffee. 

We did not drink coffee during the war. My father had an order for coffee 
and sewin^ ^hread, on our blockade steamer whenever she went from Wilming- 
ton. ~TV«. <te-¥-fce. u/a» sent to the boys in the army, and the tfafiead was used 
on the sewing machine +-o make their clothes. Our coffee was made of dried 
sweet potatoes, rye, wheat and barley, all parched brown and ground to- 
gether, putting some of it in a lit + le bag, we would droj; it in the cof- 
fee po+ of hot water and let it boil ten minutes. 

We made all sorts of things during the war. Drugs were hard to get 
for the hos itais and all kinds of herbs, barks and roots were dried and 
sent to the hospitals. Large beds of lettuce were planted aud let grow 
a + al stalk, and early in the morning some one would go out with a needle 
and slit the stalks in several laces; the milk would run out and harden 
on ■•-he s^alk, and at sunset someone would go with a little knife and piece 
of pape->* and collect the hardened drops. This was used as opium; also 
rose leaves were dried and sent with drugs. 

My mother died December 1867. After her death my brother Col. John 
1. Cobb and his family lived at the old home until he was elected County 
Court Clerk and moved with his family to Goldsboro and several years lat- 
er went to Florida. After my mother's death her land was divided among 
her children and most of it rented out. Later, after my brother moved to 
Goldsboro, none of us wanted to live there, and we sold our portions of 
the land, most of it to our white neighbors, and a small jortion to some 

of our former slaves who paid for it in yearly installments ■*""•»• * 
lived with my brother John at the old home, until I was married to Lieu- 
tenant William lenn Lane, son of rev. William K. Lane and wife *« Be £3! r 
Mumford, who lived on their plantation near Goldsboro their house 
be(n- burned by Sherman, lly husband left the University of North Carolina 


and joined the 67th Fegiment of Korth. Carolina Cavalry. Col. John D. 
Whitford was colonel of the regiment. He was in service in Eastern 
North Carolina. In the Eattle of Cobb's Mill, April 1865, near Kinston, 
he was one of seven men left of his company; the others were killed 
or wounded. His picture, also my brothers' fictures, are in Clark's His- 
tory of Hofth Carolina State Troops of the Confederacy. These pictures 
were taken and left with their parents when they marched away to fight 
for their liberty. This is true history. 

An enterprising Yankee came South after +he war and patented our 
home-made War jBoffee, and called it lost urn, and later on reduced the 
same to a powder and called it Instant lostum which requires no bag or 

After massing through the horrors of war we were subjected to the 
terrible time of *he Reconstruction days and bayonet rule of General 
Canby, of the U.S.A. Soirernment . At the first election after the war 
closed, the ignorant negroes of the Sou*h were given the privilege of 
voting. There being so many more negroes in the South than white men 
and they being instigated (by Yankees who remained in ■'-he oou+h) to 
all kinds of lawlessness, no man's life was safe, and a woman dared not 
leave her yard without a pistol for protection. *his was when tfe order 
of the Ku Klux Klan was organized and every decent white mah became a 
member. Oh! *he horrors of reconstruction days! 

(signed) Harriet Cobb Lane